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Report examines the Yangtze's ''health''
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Update time: 2007-05-10
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     The Yangtze River is experiencing a crucial transition in its conservation and development that is faced by many problems and challenges, according to the Yangtze Conservation and Development Report released on April 14 in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province.

    High-ranking officials and celebrities including CAS Vice President LI Jiayang and Director General of WWF International James P. Leape were present at the event.

    Compiled by more than 30 experts from CAS, WWF, and Yangtze Forum Secretariat, the 270-paged report is the first comprehensive study outcome of such kind that thoroughly examines the "health" of the Yangtze. The "health-check" is focused on four major water-related issues, including water resources, water calamity, water environment and water ecosystem, indicating that future ecological and social development of the river could be bottlenecked by new challenges.

    The Yangtze is not only the cradle for the Chinese civilization, but also an important life line for China's sustainable social-economic development, linking east and west part of China with a radiating impact on the south and north, says, Li Jiayang. Although China has made significant progress in its efforts to promote the development and protection of the River over the past 50 or so years, it is now plagued by a series of problems in this regards, such as worsening natural disasters, deteriorating pollution, ecological degradation, damages in natural resources. By giving a systematic overview of the conservation and development tendencies involved in the River, and an objective observation of the current challenges and potential threats facing the efforts, the report promotes the exchanges between scientists and decision makers, and offer authoritative information for the general public to have an overall understanding of the issue, says, Prof. Li.

    According to the report, the lack of a well-coordinated and integrated development mechanism stands to be a prominent issue in conservation to mitigate the negative impacts upon the natural resources and environment resulted from the less rational planning and over exploitation for economic development along the river. The river-lake reconnection in its middle and lower reaches is also necessary to restore and protect the linkage and integrity of the river-lake ecosystem.

    It also pinpoints that the Yangtze River, the largest one in China, is under steep pressure as threats of natural disasters, water quality deterioration and biodiversity loss are mounting up. Biodiversity degradation is continuing due to the worsened environmental conditions by people's imbalanced activities. The middle and lower Yangtze is periled by potential catastrophic floods as how the Three Gorges Dam would function in flood control under today's circumstance of global warming remains uncertain.

    To tackle the issues, the report suggests that a regional reform of the current governing body is needed to improve the integrated river basin management (IRBM). This should involve wider participation of all stakeholders including the central government's agencies, local governments and communities along the river, businesses and experts into the decision-making process to well balance conservation and development. Channels like the Yangtze Forum are also needed to enrich the conservation approach through a well-functioning mechanism of better discussion and communication.

    "The report objectively and systematically probed into the past, current and future facts of the river's conservation and development, which is important for the conservation of the Yangtze during development," said Dermot O' Gorman, Country Representative of WWF China.

    Released one day prior to the second Yangtze Forum scheduled in Changsha, Hunan Province from April 15 to 17, the report will be updated every two years in the future.
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